What is a good video percentage to have when conducting surveillance? This refers to the percent of the time a private investigator obtains video of their subject. This was a question emailed to me recently and an excellent topic to discuss for surveillance investigators and in particular insurance investigators. A good video percentage can be a great measurement tool for companies to determine if an investigator is doing a good job in the field and if improvement can be made. Before I get deep into this topic, here is the question that was asked by James.
Hey Andrew, I am a P.I. currently working in Florida, in your opinion, what is a good number to have overall, statistically speaking? For example, for every 100 days worked how many should you be getting video on? Obviously, 100% percent is nearly impossible but what would be an acceptable percent for you? Thanks and your videos have helped me in the field.
James also believed that at 50 percent video percentage with a low burn rate was a good mark to hit.
Claimant or Subject Video Percentage Is a Great Measurement Tool
There are many great ways of measuring the quality of work a surveillance investigator produces and the investigator’s video percentage is one of them.
It can be compared to other investigators in the same geographical area as a way to determine if an investigator is struggling.
A low video percentage may be a sign that an investigator isn’t being aggressive enough on surveillance to get an adequate surveillance position with a view of the claimant or subject residence.
I’ve Debated Video Percentage Before
When James asked this question it took me back about 10 years to a conversation/debate I had with a boss of mine. I was a field supervisor or Field Agent in Charge (FAC) and he was a Territory Manager. Our debate stemmed from what would be an acceptable video percentage for the team in California that was comprised of approximately 15 or 20 investigators and what was the goal that should be set for the team.
He believed in setting the bar in the low 60 percent range (which was completely attainable). I believed the bar should be set at 70 percent.
He believed 70 percent wasn’t an attainable goal and therefore wasn’t realistic for the team to reach. I believed that setting the bar a little higher would push the team to be better than the status quo. I can’t remember what he set the team goal for but regardless I still believe my rationale was better than his.
Rules Regarding Video Percentages
There are certain rules that should govern video percentages and I will take a page out of the rules that were set while working for the first company I worked for, Omega Insurance Services.
Here were the rules-
To receive a video credit for a surveillance day an investigator must secure at least 1 minute of video. Many times case managers would still give an investigator the credit if the investigator was close to 1 minute.
If you did not obtain video documentation of the claimant but were able to confirm the claimant was not home, the surveillance day did not count against the investigator. The investigator does not have control as to whether a subject or claimant will be home when they arrive at the surveillance.
Billable time was important to the weight of the video percentage. A private investigator’s surveillance that lasted 12 hours and video of the subject was obtained, it weighed more than the investigator that obtained video but lost the subject after 4 hours. Both would receive a video credit for the day but when billable hours were calculated with the 12-hour billable day with subject video, it had more weight when it came to calculating the total video percentage for the month. Now you might not think it is fair that both the 12 hour day and 4 hour day are not treated equally because each investigator obtained video of the subject. However, being billable and efficient is also important to investigation companies. If a budget for surveillance is 24 hours (3 days) and the investigator completes the surveillance in two days (12 hours for 2 days), the investigator has opened up another day on their schedule to work another case.
Now I don’t have the brainpower as I write this to create a spreadsheet that would calculate this for you or your business. So if you want to track your surveillance just keep track of each day you secure video of your subject and the number of days you work in a given month.
Surveillance Investigator Video Percentage Must Be Calculated Over a Long Duration
Every month an investigator should have their video percentage calculated, and hopefully, that investigator worked at least 20 days each month so there are enough days to provide a good average.
There will be good months and bad months when it comes to an investigator’s video percentage. Sometimes everything just goes right and sometimes investigators have to push themselves a little more to get video of their subject.
An average over a year is a fair measurement for a private investigator.
What is a Good Video Percentage for a Private Investigator Over a Year Span
I believe a good video percentage for a private investigator over a year span would be between 67 and 70 percent. This would be an above average percentage for an investigator. I know it is attainable as I have reached that number and so have many top surveillance investigators I have worked with in the past.
Final Thoughts on What is a Good Video Percentage for a Surveillance Investigator
There are many other measurable when it comes to the quality of surveillance and a surveillance investigator. However, a surveillance investigator’s video percentage is definitely an important metric to keep track of.
If your video percentage is low then you may need to evaluate or re-evaluate how you approach your cases. I could go down a rabbit hole on this subject and maybe someday I will. Until then, always keep improving and attempting to be a better investigator than you were yesterday.